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Topic: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

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  1. #1

    Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    I see some publishers have all articulations (accents, tenuto, and staccato) placed above the staff regardless of the stem/beam direction in big band writing. I also see other publishers have the articulations attached to the notehead. What's up? Is it anything goes?

  2. #2

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chet Heflin
    I see some publishers have all articulations (accents, tenuto, and staccato) placed above the staff regardless of the stem/beam direction in big band writing. I also see other publishers have the articulations attached to the notehead. What's up? Is it anything goes?
    I thought it was anything goes in all genres except possibly classical (I have no idea about that). Stems on the wrong side seem to be popular. Not putting in clear key changes is another. Leaving out dynamic markings a third. You wanna see some of the stage show books. Appalling copywriting makes it very difficult to sight read and when you only get one or two rehearsals before show time, it makes it really hard to get right before the run is over!

    Do everyone a favour. Write your parts cleanly, clearly, with lots of space.

    Rich

  3. #3

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by dabbler
    Stems on the wrong side seem to be popular. Not putting in clear key changes is another. Leaving out dynamic markings a third. You wanna see some of the stage show books. Appalling copywriting makes it very difficult to sight read and when you only get one or two rehearsals before show time, it makes it really hard to get right before the run is over!

    Do everyone a favour. Write your parts cleanly, clearly, with lots of space.

    Rich
    I think a distinction needs to be made between "publishers" and "stage show" charts. Published music is done by those who really should be meticulous about the parts' appearance, and they usually are.

    As a veteran of more stage shows than I can remember (is that possible?), my experience has been that those charts are prepared by the artist's conductor or some arranger somewhere who may or may not have handed the preparation job off to a copyist. Although we'd all prefer that those people knew better, many of them don't or they don't have the time to invest in the details. I've heard many a conductor explain how a particular chart was written on the flight into town and was then copied in the hotel room just in time for the rehearsal. Or, it happens that way for the first gig, the chart works well enough as is, so no money is ever invested in improving it further.

    I'll also toss in my other pet peeve, Broadway show books that are copy/pasted by someone who obviously has no clue as to instrument ranges, playability, sufficient time to switch instruments, etc. Who are these people and how do they get hired?!

    I will heartily second the motion for clearer, better prepared music. It's hard enough to play the notes as it is without having to work overtime trying to figure out what they're supposed to be in the first place!
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  4. #4

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Paul Baker - Hello!

    Yes. I played guitar at N.T.S.U. from 1978-1982.

    I finally got back into big band writing after too many years of not writing, with the goal of having polished works to present to friends and publishers.

    I have been sharing my solo guitar works with people around the globe at www.sibeliusmusic.com for a year now. People can click on a viewer called Scorch and hear my works and print them. I also have MP3 files of all of them. I have a few small jazz ensemble works, and am now ready to tackle big band works - two of which are near completion. The Gary Lindsay book has been very helpful in refreshing my memory of various writing practices. I ordered a used copy of the Clinton Roemer book and also ordered a book by Powell on engraving.


    I must have missed or fell asleep during the one possible lecture Paris Rutherford gave on correct score and part writing. I'm checking out published scores and finding different practices concerning the placement of articulations. Kendor Music places everthing above the staff. A former N.T.S.U. grad, Mark Taylor, mixes things up. At least I believe Mark Taylor attended N.T.S.U. It has been so long ago.

    One man told me that Clinton Roemer was the copyist for Stan Kenton. I wonder how Roemer did things, and if Taylor learned from him?

    Thanks for the reply - Chet http://members.sibeliusmusic.com/c.heflin

    BTW - I own current versions of both Sibelius and Finale. Too bad Finale does not have a slick place to showcase compositions like Sibelius.

  5. #5

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmdaustin
    As a veteran of more stage shows than I can remember (is that possible?), my experience has been that those charts are prepared by the artist's conductor or some arranger somewhere who may or may not have handed the preparation job off to a copyist.

    I'm talking about big shows - like the one I'm currently trying to decypher - Jesus Christ Superstar. I'm covering both trumpet 1 and trumpet 2 because its a condensed band, and I've been going through both to assess what I need to play (both parts take the lead at different times). There are such inconsistencies as parts being written in different keys, missing accidentals, pages in the wrong order (and numbered wrong), the wrong number of beats in a bar. I believe the show was written in something like 1970. I don't see a need for these parts to be as wrong as they are. There also appear to be incorrectly notated rhythms, but I'll have to check that with the director, as it could be intentional (though I doubt it).

  6. #6
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    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chet Heflin

    BTW - I own current versions of both Sibelius and Finale. Too bad Finale does not have a slick place to showcase compositions like Sibelius.

    It does, the Finale Showcase.
    http://www.finalemusic.com/showcase/fs_home.asp

    Jeff

  7. #7

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    I know about Finale Showcase. I was told by a rep that Finale was going to reintroduce an improved viewer/player - like Scorch and jazz up the site. That was many months ago.

    Finale Showcase is not fun. SibeliusMusic is. I use Sibelius more because of this site. Sibelius just got bought by Digidesign, makers of pro-tools, and will only get better. Sibelius still has some problems, like slurs, slurs, and slurs.

  8. #8

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by dabbler
    I'm talking about big shows - like the one I'm currently trying to decypher - Jesus Christ Superstar.
    My mistake - yes, I agree. I've seen many poorly copied books in my career. My guess is that they hire "who they know" instead of "who they know of" and that doesn't always lead to the best results. Also, once money has been spent putting the books together the production companies don't want to spend another nickel fixing them unless they absolutely have to. That leaves us, the musicians, to decipher what there is the best we can, and the books live on in infamy. That's why so many are so marked up over the years.

    I recently played "Chicago", and the conductor said they had just gotten all new books - as in, the just had new copies printed from the old masters. Then in rehearsal, he couldn't figure out why we weren't playing what he was used to. It was because in the process of throwing out the old books, they threw out all the corrections and notations hundreds of musicians had written in to make the stuff playable! Rather than take the time and expense to incorporate all those notations, it was cheaper and easier just to reprint from the masters, so the whole !@#$# process has to start all over again!

    I'm not surprised Superstar is screwed up. It was probably originally copied by one of Lloyd Webber's fellow students for beer money or something. As I recall, (I last played it about 7-8 years ago), a bunch of it is in odd meters (5 and 7) so I'm sure that threw off the copyist who was used to good old 4/4. Good luck getting the parts sorted. I think if management had to suffer through a comparable ordeal changes would be made immediately no matter the cost. Alas, we're only the pit musicians - way down on the food chain.

    I didn't mean to ramble on, but yes, I feel your pain.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  9. #9

    Re: Articulations above or below staff in big band writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chet Heflin
    I must have missed or fell asleep during the one possible lecture Paris Rutherford gave on correct score and part writing. I'm checking out published scores and finding different practices concerning the placement of articulations. Kendor Music places everthing above the staff.
    I don't recall Paris ever giving a lecture like that. I'm told that, since notation software is mandatory now, he actually gives out template files and is fairly picky about proper notation practices. It's about time! ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Chet Heflin
    A former N.T.S.U. grad, Mark Taylor, mixes things up. At least I believe Mark Taylor attended N.T.S.U. It has been so long ago.
    Yes Mark is an NTSU grad from the 70's.

    As for proper notation in the jazz genre, I usually put the articulation next to the notehead, whether that's above or below. My philosophy is to do whatever makes the parts the most easily read the very first time through.

    I also break a bunch of theory rules, too, using enharmonic spellings and stuff like that, because I think a player is more likely to correctly read a lick in E major rather than Fb even if the pice is in a flat key. I was playing in the pit orchestra for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" not too long ago, and my part was quite prominent in a particular number. It was also written, according to the rules of correct music theory, in the key of D# minor, double sharps and all. It could have been easily written in Eb minor and I would have a few less gray hairs now, but D# minor it was.

    I also remember a big band chart I used to play frequently where there was one bar I always seemed to crash on until I stopped and analyzed it. It was a relatively simple lick, but it was written in A# minor. Bb minor would have been so much simpler and more readable.

    I guess the moral to these long-winded stories is to place yourself in the players chair and pretend that you're reading the part for the very first time. WHat changes would you make? I've never ever seen an audience member come up to critique a score or part, but I'm pretty sure they know when they've heard a good performance or not. As long as it accomplishes the latter, I'm not terribly picky about formalities.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

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